Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Ph.D and a career in teaching Community College

  1. Sep 16, 2011 #1
    So if I wanted to change my career from professional engineer to community college teacher, would a Ph.D in engineering be helpful or over qualify me?

    I have a bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering, a M.S. in ME with emphasis on controls and dynamics, and about 2 years of professional experience so far. Also I'd be looking to get into a community college in my home state of California.

    Thanks for the advice : D
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2011 #2
    CA requires a master's or higher in either the discipline or a closely related field. Numerous community colleges have pre-engineering programs (well, at least Santa Monica did when I was there), but you could probably also teach physics or math. There are many PhDs who teach at a community college (and your industry experience will probably be an advantage).
  4. Sep 16, 2011 #3
    You'll pretty much need a phd to teach full-time at a community college. You minimally need a masters, but many applicants for full time positions will have phds, so it will be hard to compete without one.

    Where I live in Southern California, however, the trend has been to replace full time faculty with lots of adjuncts, and it will be really hard to make a living by cobbling together various adjunct positions (its between $2k and $3k per class, no benefits, and most schools only have one or two classes they need you to teach). Most of the adjuncts (like myself) work full time jobs and teach at the community college on the side every now and then. I have met people who make their whole living adjuncting, but they spend a ton of time commuting between various community colleges,and frankly it seems like a pretty meager existence.

    Its trivially easy to land these adjunct positions with a masters, so if I were you, I'd put my name in the adjunct pools for as many community colleges as you can find. Look at architecture schools as well (they need people to teach basic physics) as community colleges, and even the UC system takes adjuncts. You'll get a flavor of teaching some of the classes, see if you like it, and you can talk to other adjuncts and administrators at the community college about their long-term outlook for staff hiring.
  5. Sep 16, 2011 #4
    It's that way in Ohio as well, so my guess is it's that way just about everywhere. You could also try ITT (they frequently have need of physics teachers).
  6. Sep 16, 2011 #5
    Also University of Phoenix is looking for people. As with community colleges, it's trivially easy to get an adjunct position (but UoP requires you to be employed in another position and to have at least two years work experience), but almost impossibly difficult to get a full time position.

    One other trend I've noticed is that community colleges are looking specifically for people that are full time employed in something else. The reason for this is that they can pay you a lot less. This is actually rather good for you, since you should have no problem getting an adjunct position, and if you think of it as "paid charity work" it might work out very well for you. Also if you sell it as "paid charity work" then most employers won't have any problems with you doing it in addition to your current position.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011
  7. Sep 16, 2011 #6

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    About 15-20 years ago, community colleges went through a phase transition, and tacitly realized that if they hired N people to teach one course each rather than 1 person to teach N courses, they would save money and at the same time make many people in the community happy by giving them a part-time job.
  8. Nov 25, 2011 #7
    teach at cypress college where I go please
  9. Nov 27, 2011 #8
    rm446, just to expand on some of the earlier points about qualifications:

    The following is from South Orange Community County District's website for engineering instructor positions. These are the network of 2 year colleges in Southern Califormia - South Orange County.

    "The successful candidate must meet one of the following criteria:

    1. Master's degree or higher in engineering from an accredited college or university; OR

    2. Bachelor's degree in engineering AND a Master's degree in mathematics, physics, computer science, chemistry, or geology from an accredited college or university; OR

    3. Valid California Community College instructor credential appropriate to the subject per Education Code 87355 (issued prior to July 1, 1990); OR

    4. A combination of education and experience that is at least the equivalent of items 1 or 2 above (Applicants applying on the basis of equivalency must submit the Supplemental Application for Equivalency Determination form in addition to all other required materials).

    (NOTE: A Bachelor's in any field of engineering with a professional engineer's license that is valid in California is an alternative qualification for this discipline, pursuant to Title 5 Section 53410.1.)"
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook